FORECAST FOR THE ILTF
Britain's Lawn Tennis Association voted overwhelmingly last week to seek permission to stage experimental championships open to both amateurs and professionals at Wimbledon in 1965 and 1966. The proposal will be put forward at the International Lawn Tennis Federation's annual meeting in Vienna next July. "We are anxious to banish the hypocrisy which is doing tennis so much harm," said J. Eaton Griffith, tough-minded president of the ILTF and vice-president of the LTA.
We are anxious, too, and hope the proposal succeeds. Similar motions in the past have had bad luck. In 1960 a proposal for open tennis failed because a committed delegate with decisive votes to cast was, at the time of the balloting, in the washroom. Since then, opposition to the idea has hardened. In 1961 Australia, with 12 votes, reversed its previous stand and decided against open tennis. In 1962 Australia was joined by the U.S. with another dozen votes.
Australia's 1964 position will not be known for a few weeks, but Griffith is hopeful that the British proposal will gain American support. He is firmly opposed to Britain's going it alone, but if France and the U.S. support the motion and it still fails, a quiet rebellion may occur. Many close to the heart of British tennis believe that in such a situation Britain will try to persuade her supporters to ignore the ILTF and go ahead without it in the organization of open tennis.
THE RING BEHIND THE CURTAIN
For the past several years Soviet physicians and boxing coaches have been studying the effects of boxing on health. Most of the doctors have concluded, according to the Medical Tribune, that "the harmful effects of boxing on health cannot be supported by convincing data, but, on the contrary, with proper training and medical control, the sport can promote the physical development and health of the athlete."
Trainers in the U.S. would agree unanimously with one Soviet conclusion: that the more skilled a boxer is, the less likely he is to be knocked out. Thus, the Boxing Federation's executive secretary reported that in the 1956 U.S.S.R. Championships one bout in 20 ended in a KO, whereas four years later, when skills had greatly increased, knockouts occurred only once in every 100 bouts.
Let the U.S. Olympic team take notice that there are now 214,000 boxers in the Soviet Union.
The Chapel-by-the-Lake of the First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla. has a beautiful lawn sloping down toward Lake Worth and an ideal seawall from which to fish. Except during church services and on Sunday, everyone has been welcome to use the grounds for fishing.
Until recently, that is. Thoughtless fishermen have been leaving dead fish on the lawn, enough so that their effluvium has become a nuisance to churchgoers, not to mention ministers. After some consideration of what to do, a sign, lettered in modified Gothic, went up on the church lawn.
"Thou Shalt Not Fish," it said.
CHECKMATE FOR CHARLIE
For two years Charles O. Finley, an insurance salesman who bought the Kansas City Athletics in 1960, has been trying to move the A's elsewhere—practically anywhere elsewhere. The whole matter has been reminiscent of John Steinbeck's declaration in Travels with Charley: "When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. This to the practical bum is not difficult."
Finley has the reason—he says he is losing money—but he is not as free to go as Steinbeck was. After listening to his plea to be free last week, American League owners voted, 9 to 1, to keep him in Kansas City. Finley must, in fact, negotiate a lease with the city by February 1 or lose his franchise. Amateur lawyers who have read the league's constitution hold that it really does have this power, but Finley, still struggling, has hired a lawyer anyway. A group in Kansas City wants to buy the A's, and that, in the end, may be the solution that will permit Finley to roam wherever he wills.
YOUR FRIENDLY BETTING SHOP
The Mayor's Citizens Committee on Off-Track Betting, authorized by an overwhelming 3 to 1 in a recent New York election, has come up with a plan for setting up betting shops about the city. The plan is predictably demure.
The shops would, it is proposed, have the atmosphere of banks, though without the chairs and benches that banks provide for their patrons and, it goes without saying, without such facilities as loan departments. No loitering would be tolerated, since that might encourage camaraderie among the depraved. Shops would not be permitted within 200 feet (magic number) of a school, youth center, playground, church, welfare center office, unemployment-insurance office or saloon. The presumption seems to be that drunks, churchgoers and welfare recipients cannot walk 200 feet.
One of the arguments for the legalized betting shops has been that they would drive the illegal bookie out of business. Our guess is that the bookie will take his cue from this cheerless proposal and establish, as in Prohibition days, speakeasy betting parlors of a lavishness, comfort and convenience—free drinks, divans and pretty girls to collect betting slips—that will drive the municipal competition out of business. After all, the city cannot very well bribe its own cops.
Hyperbole is a rhetorical device sometimes used to good purpose. We wonder if Santiago Bernabéu, president of the Real Madrid soccer team, was being rhetorical when he said: "If I had a son, I'd prefer he went to war than play soccer. There are terrible battles in soccer, worse than war itself."
Spaniards who remember Guernica may not agree.
That superb playmaker for the New York Rangers, Andy Bathgate, recently came up with what may have been the cleverest of all his maneuvers.
First came rumors that Bathgate would be traded, a move he deeply opposed. This was followed by Andy's appraisal of why he had not been playing his best this season. "It's physical in a way but if it gets out what's bothering me, I'm dead," Bathgate said. Trade talk subsided immediately. Nor was it so surprising that in his next three games Bathgate, despite his mysterious ailment, scored one goal and assisted in five others with thread-needle passes.
All of which leads us to believe that Bathgate's malady was nothing more than the chill he got from the wet blanket he so deftly tossed on the trade rumors.
Little more than 100 years ago Virginia City, Nevada was a rip-roaring Wild West town sitting atop the Comstock Lode—greatest chunk of silver ever discovered. As fabulous wealth was drawn from the mines, the city's population grew to 35,000.
The silver is gone now and the population has dwindled to 500. Until recently Virginia City's proudest boast has been that it is "the liveliest ghost town in the West." Not anymore. The town's proudest boast today is the Virginia City Muckers, a high school basketball team that last Saturday night won its 53rd straight game and 81st consecutive league game. Total enrollment at the high school is 43, including girls. There are 23 boys, of whom 19 go out for varsity and junior varsity basketball. Playing against teams from communities with populations as much as 100 times as big, the Muckers have not lost a game since March 11, 1961.
What makes them so formidable? Coach Lyle Damon does not know. Some of their strength, he thinks, may derive from the fact that, having grown up together in such a small town, they know each other well. Therefore, he holds, their knowledge of how one or another will move in a given situation is almost instinctive. Then, too, he points out, "they start fooling around with a basketball when they are very young."
"They don't play all year round, like some people say," he added, "but they probably do play a lot more than kids in other towns."
As the man himself puts it, "People think Satch is either rich or dead." He is neither. Organized baseball can no longer use Satchel Paige, now 57 years old going on 61, who in his prime may well have been the greatest pitcher of all time. But that prime was spent playing for Negro teams and he was well past it when, in 1948, after 22 years in baseball, he became the first Negro to pitch in the American League.
Goose Tatum, an old friend, hired down-on-his-luck Satch to front for Tatum's touring basketball team. The team reached Houston, Texas the other day, and Satch, careful not to wrinkle his blue sharkskin suit, sat on an old trunk, puffed on a cigarette held between thumb and forefinger, and ruminated.
"The past," he said, "is a long and twisty road.
"No tellin' how great I might have been. The players what was in the big leagues then, it wasn't no sweat for me to get 'em out. There weren't five homers hit off me in three years.
"They say I'm too old, but the ones that say that hasn't seen me perform. I've slowed down some, my wind's a little short, I can't field bunts too good, but I know how to keep 'em from bunting on me."
Last summer he barnstormed in the northern U.S. and Canada, pitching two or three innings every day for 145 games, still dreaming that he might somehow get back into the majors.
"It must have been meant for me to be born when I was," he said sadly, "or I wouldn't have been born. They still calls me the greatest pitcher what ever lived.
"Well, if there hadn't been a color line, I might have made more money and got into trouble with Sam."
The most significant handball event ever held in the U.S. will be the national tournament sponsored by the U.S. Handball Association, the AAU and the YMCA and scheduled for March 14-21 on the courts of the St. Louis Jewish Community Center. Hitherto, except for one other try for unity, in 1958, the AAU and the YMCA have staged "national" tournaments, though they were not truly national. Now they have joined hands again with the USHA, which was formed in 1950 as a players' protest against the AAU's ineffectual promotion.
Until the USHA came along, hardly anyone started playing handball until he was in his mid-20s. But the USHA encouraged youngsters to play, and nine years ago originated national collegiate and national juniors' tournaments. Some of the products of these tournaments will be on hand in St. Louis. One or two, especially Bill Yambrick, 23, of St. Paul, may confound the old guard. Yambrick won the intercollegiate in 1961 and 1962 and now may face Jim Jacobs of New York, dominant player in recent years, who has been handicapped by business pressures in recent tournaments. Jacobs will be trying to regain his title.
Increasing interest in handball is indicated by a battery of new courts at the University of Texas. One of these seats 1,000 spectators—quite a rise from the previous high of 500 at the Aurora (Ill.) YMCA. Biggest court at the St. Louis JCC will seat about 300.
It is a good game, and the USHA seems to be doing a fine job of developing it.
THEY SAID IT
•Frank Gifford, New York Giant halfback: "In 10 years we'll have a lot of Jimmy Browns, fellows big and indestructible but who move with tremendous speed and maneuverability. You might say that because of multiple vitamins we'll have multiple Jimmy Browns."
•Dick Bianski, of Minneapolis, on doctoring bowling lanes to favor right-handed bowlers: "It would be just like in baseball always having different fences—short ones for the right-handed hitters and longer ones for left-handers."